The 2006 law that effectively outlawed online gambling in this country was sufficiently riddled with loopholes that tens of thousands of Americans have figured out ways to get around it. And so there’s a move afoot in Congress to rescind the law, license virtual casinos, and tax the product to help close the deficit. It’s a bad idea for any number of reasons.
For one: It’s impossible to control access. A computer can’t tell the age of the person sitting at it, nor can the operator of a virtual casino (as if he or she cared). Even if age verification were required, what would stop a minor from using a parent’s or somebody else’s driver’s license (and credit card) to play?
For another: There’s already too much gambling going on in this country — in casinos, racinos and racetracks practically everywhere, on state-run lotteries, etc. Adding something big like virtual casinos will provide hefty competition for the other outlets, many of which pay taxes and rent and employ millions of people. Virtual casinos don’t pay rent and don’t employ very many people. And if the taxes were anything but minimal, players would simply avoid the licensed casinos for the illegal ones they’re using now.
For a third: Making gambling a mouse-click away is asking for trouble. Inevitably, it will cause far more Americans to develop compulsive gambling habits — increasing poverty, crime, joblessness, etc.
If the law passed four years ago is too easily circumvented, the solution is to make it tougher, not to get rid of it. As for the $42 billion over 10 years that licensing it might raise, it would be blood money — causing offsetting amounts of misery for the people and industries victimized by it.